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A Day in the Life at Wings of Refuge

“What does a day inside the Wings home actually look like?” This is a question that I think a lot of people want to ask but don’t feel like they can or should. Although each day is different, here is a narrative about the ins and outs of a typical day for a Direct Care Coach.

Note: The names of participants are not of any current or previous women in the home.

When I get to the house, this is what I see on the schedule for the day:

- Pray and prep for the day

- Read documentation and staff communication

- Dispense all prescribed medications (morning, noon, night and anytime in between)

8:30 am: Devotions

9:00 am: Morning workout with our Health Coach

10:00 am: Rachel meets with her mental health counselor

Noon: Lunch

1-4 pm: Classes at the Learning Center and Molly has a doctor’s appointment

5:00 pm: Supper

6-8 pm: Free time and Internet Safety class

Rest of the night: Mindfulness craft, free time, get ready for bed

That is what is on the schedule. But here’s what actually happens that day:

When I arrive, I check in with the night staff to see how things went during her time in the home and find out that Molly was tossing and turning all night and she didn’t get much sleep, so she might be a little tired this morning. And Rachel slept with just a lamp on last night instead of all the lights in her room, which means she is starting to feel safer, which is a really big deal. The night staff prays over me, the women, and the activities for the day. I turn on some worship music and refill the wax melts so the women can start the day with calming aromatherapy.

At 8:30 am we all find our favorite spots in the living room and continue our devotional on the fruits of the Spirit and Rachel and Lauren have a really great discussion about needing more patience and what it actually looks like to ask the Holy Spirit for help throughout the day.

We all get ready for some exercise and laugh as we do a “Just Dance” video for a warm up in the exercise room before they get some healing endorphins flowing on the treadmill.

Molly was really quiet during devotions, so when Rachel goes to meet with her counselor and Lauren takes a shower, I ask her how she’s doing. She says she wants to cancel her doctor's appointment today. I know it’s just a regular check-up, but it might be a male doctor who will have to be very physically close to her to do all of the normal tests, like check her ears and her heart. I tell her that it’s okay to be nervous and that I still get nervous when I have to go see the doctor. I ask her what will be helpful for her to get through that appointment and we brainstorm on how to bring her anxiety down from a 9 to an 8.

After lunch, the women go to the Learning Center for various trauma programming like Boundaries and STEPPS (which are tools that equip the women to work on emotional regulation). I take Molly to her appointment and we talk about what to expect on our drive there. Because we prepared ahead of time and brought her sensory bag to keep her grounded, Molly is able to make it through all of the routine tests and we celebrate by getting an ice cream cone on the way home.

At 4pm we’re supposed to meet in the kitchen for some informal life skills before supper, but Rachel is watching TV. I remind her that we’re all meeting in the kitchen, but she didn’t see that on her schedule for the day. The last-minute change and expectation is overwhelming and she gets upset. I know her reaction is the Borderline Personality Disorder caused by her trauma and that the outburst isn’t my fault, or hers for that matter. I validate that last-minute changes can be frustrating and give her some space and she eventually joins us in the kitchen as we talk about the health benefits of Brussels sprouts. Most of us aren’t excited to try Brussels sprouts, but we make a recommended recipe for supper and are surprised when everyone likes it! AND it even becomes a staple recipe on our meal planning calendar every week. We sit down for supper together as a family so they learn what dinner time should have looked like growing up and work together to clean up the kitchen afterwards.

From 6-8pm the women have some free time, so Rachel returns to her TV show, Molly works on her Internet Safety homework, and Lauren asks to go to the basement to get more trash bags. I go downstairs with her because it’s dark with shadows and she can hear the footsteps and voices of the other women upstairs, and these things can be triggers for her.

At 8 o’clock we’re supposed to do a craft for mindfulness, but the women are in a loud and goofy mood, so instead we clear the space in the living room to do some Karaoke. We belt out our favorite Disney songs and in that moment I thank God for the community, laughter, friendship, and healing that is happening in the room.

Later that evening, Molly goes to take a shower and she asks me to stand outside the door while she’s in the bathroom, so I talk about random things that distract her from the fact that she’s in a very vulnerable place and this is how she’s able to take a shower without having a panic attack.

I go back downstairs and Rachel comes in from the backyard where she had a rough conversation with her mom who is the current guardian of her children. She slams down the phone and stomps upstairs. I give her some time to herself and then go up to check on her. She tells me to go away and that she doesn’t want to talk and I let her know that I’m available if she wants to talk about it later.

The next morning, Rachel comes down and says “I’m sorry for the way I treated you last night. I was so mad at my mom and I took it out on you.” And I say “It’s all good. I forgive you. I know you have a lot going on right now and today is a new day!”

This is life at Wings of Refuge. Some of these examples may seem small, like making it through a doctor’s appointment, taking a shower, or admitting fault, but the trauma that these women have experienced and the way it has altered their brain and ability to relate and interact with others impacts everything they do. As a result, it is our goal to help them get to the point where the trauma doesn’t control their day anymore. We celebrate the little victories that come in the wake of the struggles. We laugh, we cry, we forgive, we hold accountable, and we empower her to take back her life every day.


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